Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Y'See, This Old Lady Writes A Letter to God...

(Rude Alert...but it's funny, anyways)








(From flanimals.com, via Pinterest)

Snow Removal Made Easy

Thinking about clearing the roof off yourself? Better watch this first.




Not that we have anything to clear off. Colorado's dry as a bone again, with a few crunchy bits leftover from snow more than a week ago.

Go here, if you can't get the video to work.   Thanks, Weather Channel

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Frugal Hits & Misses: January Report

January is often our 'hunker down' month -- and this year was no different. Generally, we stayed put, ate mostly out of the refrigerator and pantry and just spent time with each other. We didn't do much, other than some work, but watch videos and feed the woodstove. (Oh, and Charley, too.)
      We had very little snow -- no scraping off the windshield, which was a relief -- but plenty of cold. Only one storm, and that wasn't a huge deal.

He likes to watch Dad add in his vitamins.

Ditto for Michigan, which I ended up flying to for our grand-nephew's funeral in mid-month. (Heart-breaking, but necessary.) Other than that, January was pretty quiet, particularly when Mr. Flu hitched a ride back.


Bizarro strikes again..


FRUGAL HITS

*Grocery shopping was minimal: mostly milk, butter, sale items and the Friday freebie digital coupons.  (Go to the King Soopers website (Kroger for you Easterners) on Fridays, and you'll see what I mean. Safeway has them too, but more sporadically.)
     Some specials: 2-pound bags of meatballs: $2.99.  (I have had a craving for Swedish meatballs, for some odd reason. These did the trick.)
     75-cent cans of Chunky soup.  Half-pound bags of grated cheese: 99 cents.
     DiGiorno pizza: buy-2-get-1-free...plus a $2 coupon. Not as cheap as previous sales, still, pretty good.
     BIG Reese's Peanut Butters (not cups) -- almost 7 oz. bars for 99 cents (reg. $4.99). Brought back from Michigan for a surprise. Their heft freaked out TSA, who apparently thought they were blocks of explosive. I got searched - big-time.
     Eggs for $1.25 a dozen. It feels weird to be buying eggs.


Serves you right, Missy...

*Got just a few after-Christmas items. Just two tins of cookies...though I drooled over the German nutcrackers Tuesday Morning had out on clearance.

*Hardly any other shopping, either out and about or online. The Brick did get some struts and shocks for the Outback, which needed them.  But:

*The Brick installed the parts on the Outback himself, saving those costs. What a guy.

*I missed attending some events... partly due to flu, and partly from heading out of town unexpectedly. Saved on admission and food costs.

*The chickens finally went to that Big Soup Kettle in the Sky: all eleven of them. Beforehand, though, they cleared out the remnants of the chicken feed, and ate up several stale or deteriorating food items leftover from the holidays.
     We gave several dressed chickies to neighbors and Daughter #1, and kept a few for ourselves. Delicious...but boy, were they tough.
     I still catch myself thinking I need to go out and feed them...that's what habits will do for you.

*Managed another Seniors Luncheon, with the help of a small group at Creekside Bible. It went great, with lunch for both of us -- and no further cost on my part. (See the Jan. 2016 version of the Seniors Luncheon here.)

*One large dogsitting job -- and another booked for February. Two of our favorite puppies: Luna and Dabbey.

This is Luna.

*Several restoration jobs -- in progress and nearly finished. Plus a few appraisals. I also picked up more teaching and appraisal commitments.

*A few piano lessons -- for three of my favorite kiddoes.

Love 'em dearly.

*An armload of Elvis DVDs, bought on a hunch from the library's used book sale room. Lesson learned: Elvis movies, with few exceptions, may be popular -- but they're not sought-after.
     Fortunately, The Mama loves Elvis...and really enjoyed watching Blue Hawaii and G.I. Blues, as well as the others. Actually, so did I. (Elvis was in Germany, with the same Army company, at the same time my dad was stationed there. He remembered seeing Elvis, but was casual about it. Weird.)



Thank you, Wikipedia.

*Sold one item on Amazon. (Ironically, I'd gotten it for free.) Then just before posting this, sold two more!

*The cheapest ticket EVER to fly to Michigan. Then again, I was meant to go.
      I was also careful about expenditures while I was there. A few (inexpensive) meals were purchased, and I paid the tip for a few others. (The Mama enjoys going out to eat.) This included a bonus card for Panera's, earned for buying giftcards.

*Only one day's work for Tuesday Morning. I've finished my stint as a seasonal employee, which has allowed my gimpy knee to heal faster. Would I do it again? Maybe, maybe not. But we do have the property tax payment for February covered now.

*Some very cool reusable shopping bags, for only a buck or two. Graphic illustrations of Bigfoot and the Denver Broncos -- after I use them for a while (5-10 cents off per bag per trip), I'll cut them up for quilt backs.

*We went out to eat a few times - but used our Red Robin bonus bucks to cover nearly all of it.

*We watched a few seasons of JAG (thanks to the library), plus Blindspot (free, via the Internet). I checked several movies out from the library, but also got some, plus a few books, from the used-book room ($1 and $2 each).


(I still don't quiiite understand Blindspot -- the ongoing saga of a tattoed chick whose inked motifs solve crimes -- but the Brick loves it.)

*Got a 1500 Swagbucks bonus (the equivalent of $15.00) for buying shoe polish we needed, anyways. Swagbucks continues to be a great way to earn gift cards, just by doing everyday searches I would have done, anyways. Go here to learn more and sign up.




*Bagged up and cleared out more stuff. Every time we do this, it feels refreshing. It's also one step closer to our plans for spring.

*Bought antique photos (off Ebay) for the haunted history book, including several in a Buy 2-get 1 free deal. Got permission to use some others. (Thank you, Sybilla and Jim!) This is going to be one of my biggest commitments in Feb. and March.

*$500 -- just for opening a credit union account! While I was in Michigan, the Brick noticed a three-day promotion. A new credit union was opening its doors in town, and the first 50 people each day would earn $500 -- just for opening a new account.
     We had trouble believing it -- but it was true. 
     The Brick went there at opening time on Day #2, only to find that people had been lining up for hours before that. So Day #3, he went over at 2:30 a.m., with a deck chair and sleeping bag.
     He was person #13. Even more puzzling, by the time the crowd was let in, his position magically changed to #18. No matter: he got the $500. Which made our Hollander hearts happy -- and sad, because I wasn't there to get an additional $500!
     No matter. I'm stopping by this week to open an account, too -- but I'll only get $200 extra for doing it. Darn, darn, darn. Update: I did -- and they did.






FRUGAL MISSES

Not much this month, unless you count some spoiled or fading food: a bowl or two of old beans, a couple of mushy apples (leftover from our September Palisade trip) and a tangerine looking distinctly under the weather. (The Brick couldn't eat all of the ham and beans I made for him, while I was gone.) 
     I need to clean out the vegetable crisper and make soup.

*We did lose our darling puppy -- which was hard. I will always miss her.

*Car parts for the Outback.  The Brick got the best deal he could, but still... we are thinking of selling it, and want it in tiptop shape beforehand.

*Bought a denim dress on Ebay.  For less than $15, true, but I really don't NEED it.
       I am a bad girl. (snicker) I also bought those Ebay photos, which actually can be used for other things, besides the book. Paypal Credit lets me pay for them gradually.

*Bought a group of miniatures from Sally's in Michigan, on a whim. (Salvation Army) Thought I'd make big bucks...but I should be able to double my modest purchase, for investment purposes. Maybe.

God has been very good to us, both this past year and this month.
    God is good -- all the time.
    All the time -- God is good.



both Colorado mountains and rose photos from Morguefile


Curious about the other Frugal Hits & Misses reports? Start with December 2017. 
Or you might enjoy comparing this month with last year's January report.






Strut Your Feathers - Peacock-Style

Capture the vivid colors of a peacock in this crochet afghan pattern.


Why they're calling it 'applique,' I'm not certain -- I guess, because you stitch the motifs to a background, at least around the edge. But it still seems a little odd...

Best of all:  the pattern -- and accompanying tutorial -- are free!  Go here for specifics. The videos below should be helpful, too. Choose your favorite color scheme, instead, if the peacock's is not to your taste.
    (Thanks, DIY Design/DIY Smartly)









I resemble that!  (From Pinterest, via Miss keeper More)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Stitchin', Stitchin'

I rarely get time to sew, just for fun...and this week is no exception. At least I'm doing three restoration jobs -- restitching two kids' quilts, plus a wool coverlet. When you're shivering, due to flu, a warm quilt on the lap is a pleasure. I use silk thread and tiny stitches; they make a real difference in the finished product. 
     That's the interesting part of this week. Other than that, it's taking care of correspondence, clearing away and tidying up. Exciting, huh...


Morguefile photo


A blue moon, supermoon and lunar eclipse are all going to coincide with each other -- for the first time in 150 years.   Set your reminder for the evening of Jan. 30.

Ice storm musings.  (From Funky Junk Interiors)

Ten historical mysteries that will probably never be solved. From Jimmy Hoffa's disappearance to the whereabouts of Cleopatra's tomb.  (Thanks, Live Science)

"The seven best financial moves our family made in 2017."  (From Medium Sized Family)

The 'cursed' candy kiss of Canada.  Which isn't, really...some other interesting posts here, as well, including ancient mounds and a hidden Prohibition whiskey distillery that may be the origin of 'Pokey Moonshine.'  (From Ottawa Rewind)

"It's Amazing Out There:"  Weather.com's top 50 photos from its 2017 contest.

Ten works of art found 'hiding' in plain sight.  (From Listverse)

24 Oscar snubs, nominations and surprises.

Seven-Layer Pizza Dip...oh my.  (From Crazy for Crust)



"I wasn't a Trump supporter -- but I am now. Here's why."  (From the Chicago Tribune)

A wedding, from start to finish -- for $2000?  Sure, with a little help from family and friends.

How chevron designs became 'king' in Venetian beadmaking.  An excellent antique-to-modern look by Robert Tymstra.

Five tips for easier photo-editing(From Thistlewood Farms)

The Clotilda, America's last slave ship (or so we think), may have been found, thanks to recent storms. (From Smithsonian)

Breaking Bad's most disgusting question...or is it? Also, a quick look at hot buttered Pop-Tarts, a combo that never even remotely occurred to me.

Want to see a bobcat up close(r)?  This one was wandering around a neighborhood next to ours. (From a NextDoor neighbor, who posted it on Youtube:)


Since I'm on a wildlife kick --

Bald eagles. Floating down the Mississippi on ice chunks. "Just chillin,'" the caption says. Looks like that's the case. (Accuweather, thanks)

Have a great week.







Saturday, January 27, 2018

Brickworks Blog and Facebook 'Rules'

...at least, these are mine. 

I don't use names for our daughters and son. Ditto for the Brick. You may have noticed my use of the terms Daughters #1 and #2, and Son #1. (One amused the heck out of me at Christmastime by mentioning a blogpost and saying, 'I knew it was me you were talking about -- after all, I'm Daughter #2 and he's Son #1, isn't he...' She was right!)
    
Same goes for other family members, like Cuz (cousin), Brother, etc. I have used first names for a few relatives (occasionally, and nearly always in response to their post on FB), and full names in obituaries. (See next item.) I will occasionally use first names for close friends, too.

Any family or personal friend photos you see -- either I or the Brick have taken them (and it's ok with the people in the photos), or they've already been previously used in a public venue (like Facebook or a print or tv/cable publication). Or we've gotten permission from the family member(s) in question.
       The exception: Charley the dog. He hasn't given permission, but I really don't think he cares much...not even the butt photo. (The chickens didn't, either.)

Places and things -- ditto.  Like the Castle Rock landscape photo in this post...which I took in the fall of 2017.

I may use photos from another blog -- but only sparely (usually just one), and as a descriptor to that blog, with link(s) included. This is standard procedure on the internet; you'll see it most in the weekly 'Monday Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff' columns. I will include photos and such from Wikipedia, Morguefile, Pinterest, IMDB or other 'public-use-is-okay' venues, but with proper attribution. (Some of my old posts don't attribute the 'use-is-okay' sites -- but I'm doing better at it.)
      Plus links, if at all possible.

Is the subject especially sad, or sensitive in nature? Don't expect gory details or shocking photos. I don't show blood, vomit or give evil people extra glory. (I may be rude or vulgar, like the El Caganer post, but will warn you first.) I may include links, so you can learn more about a situation or event -- which may show those things. I don't.
     The one exception, which may freak out some of my Faithful Readers: Victorian-era (and earlier) postmortem photos. These are strange, all right (and I'll issue a Creepy Alert) -- but they're important. They not only show clothes and designs of the period, but often include other interesting cultural details, as well. Political items and quilts, for example.
      I will NOT show modern postmortems, no matter how relevant they are...the guy taking a selfie next to his dead grandma is a chilling example. Ewww.

Unless it's a teaching or appraising gig, I will not tell you if we're out of town -- unless one or more of us is staying, or we've already come home. (Ditto for relatives.) I have too many visions of bad guys plundering the house while we're in Cancun...

If you have a page on Facebook, whatever you put on it is public knowledge. Period. 
      Too many people forget this. 

     If you think you're cute or clever by posting political or people insults, drunken photos or sexy selfies, not only will those photos and harsh words appear on your page -- they'll also appear on the pages of anyone you're Facebook 'friends' with.
     Including my page. Yuck.

Insult me in print -- I will not respond in kind.  I will just let you look foolish by leaving your harsh words out there to embarrass you. Someday, if not soon, you will regret them.

Insult someone or something else -- I'll most probably defend them.  Even if I don't agree with them-- or you. Trump-lovers and haters, take note. 

I am not perfect. I mess up and make mistakes. If I do, though, I try hard to fix them. Only God is perfect...not me. (Or you.)

I may occasionally 'break' these rules, for certain reasons...but some are set in stone.  Like family photos without permission, or bad/good news from another family, before the matriarch says it on Facebook -- nope.

Comments are always welcome! I love to hear what's important to you, even if we disagree. And I will treat you with the same tact and willingness to listen, that I hope you'll use for me.







Weekend -- and Colorado's Best Travel Spots

I was starting to feel better. Rest and some quiet days at home will do that for you. I've had just enough work to keep me from being a slug -- but not so much that I was hustling from job to job. 
    This afternoon, we were headed out to Kiowa, about 45 min. away, to take photos for the Colorado haunted history book. Then the fever, aching and other symptoms started up again. Guess we'll do it next week.

Did you ever wonder what it really is like in Colorado's backcountry? A blog, Colorado Lifestyle, is sooo close to what the Brick and I have seen over our 30+ years of hiking, skiing and four-wheeling.
    Each of the dozens of posts is a trip to a different spot in our wonderful state. Sometimes they're a moderate hike, sometimes they're just a few steps from the parking lot or trailhead.

from the blog -- what you see from the Officers Gulch parking lot. Wow.


 Summer and winter destinations (sometimes for the same place) are included alike, although Sylvia Murphy, the blogger, is obviously fond of snowshoeing. Cross-country or backcountry skiers could take advantage of the same locations.

Mayflower Gulch, near Summit County. From the blog -- yes, it really does look like that.


Not only will this blog give you good ideas for now -- Colorado Lifestyle will help plan your summer jaunts, too. Mileage, directions and tips (including any fees, road conditions, etc.) are included.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

It's Nice to Be Home

...though, judging by the sore throat and developing fever, I brought back a friend.

Thanks, family in Michigan.  (sigh) I know you tried hard not to give me the flu. 
    It wasn't an easy visit. The baby's funeral was difficult -- but I was supposed to be there.

Now on to washing clothes and getting rid of some of the piles the Brick accumulated during my time away. 
     Okay...maybe I helped.





Monday, January 22, 2018

Dogs On Patrol

Time, Gentle Readers, for another look at the canines we cherish-- and drive us crazy.



'Discussion' between toddler and bulldog:  hey, say what you've got to say!



For our part, we enjoy playing "Momma/Dad's gonna get you," with accompanying growls and chasing.
Sir Charles has literally turned his back on us while we're doing this. 






and in honor of winter weather:





Sunday, January 21, 2018

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Michigan -- And Home

I'm here for a few more days, spending time with The Mama and family. It has been an unusual visit, but I've been happy to be able to hang out with a cousin here and there, and see our nieces and nephews. Unfortunately, several family members have some kind of horrible flu that's going around the state, so I haven't seen much of them. But that's the way it goes. I do NOT want to bring this stuff back home as a souvenir. 
     Life goes on. But sometimes it does that because you trudge through. 
     After getting snow for weeks, it's brown and dreary here in Michigan -- warmer temps and rain melted everything but the most stubborn snowpiles. Colorado, on the other hand, got paved with 9 or 10 inches of white! Go figure. But I'm supposed to get a snowy push home from the Mitten State later this week. 
Meanwhile:

50 books free to read -- from Project Gutenberg.  (the list, thanks to The Simple Dollar)

Where monarch butterflies go to spend the winter...in Mexico.  (a trip report from Kevin and Ruth)

Ten ways to clear out a smelly house(From Donna Freedman, via MoneyTalksNews)

Estate planning; how affluent art collectors do it. Buying for value, versus personal taste. Or doing both!  (From Wealth Advisor)

An early Rembrandt found in a basement auctions for a million bucks...then resells for $4 million!

18 ways people allowed themselves to be scammed. Ouch.  (From Cracked) Also:

5 secrets of famous movie costumes. Game of Thrones cloaks made from IKEA rugs?!?

Same theme, but focusing just on Star Wars costumes.  (From Co.Design)


Have a good week.



It Finally Showed Up (Here in Colorado)


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Coping with Unexpected Company

"What should I stock up on for last-minute guests?"

Thistlewood Farms asked this question -- and it's a good one.

On my side, we have literally hundreds of cousins. On the Brick's side, dozens. (Sadly, our uncles and aunts are nearly all gone now; only The Mama is left from her original siblings, though several sisters-in-law, all in their late 80s or early 90s, are still going strong.)

We don't get many long-term guests, but have had more than our share of "just in the neighborhood for a few hours, a day or two, can we stop by" calls. Probably has something to do with the lure of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado, the Wild West (or perception thereof). Stuff like that.

The girlies also enjoy making quickie visits...with little warning. Who cares! It's great having them stop by, whenever they can do so.

Voila: the girlies. I love them both (and Son #1) dearly.


So here is what I do:

*Keep clean sheets on the guestroom bed.  If she's visiting, Daughter #2 will often stay overnight. That way, the bed is ready for her to hop in. (Now if I can only keep that room clutter-free, as well...)

*Have a basket of goodies ready, too. Bath items, fresh soap, toothbrush and toothpaste -- stuff like that. Fresh towels and washcloths are already in the cabinet.

*Always include a few small food items in the present box.  I keep a box stocked with little present-type items for piano students, unexpected birthdays or anniversaries or hostess gifts. A small box of chocolates or package of cookies looks well on the guestroom pillow, and is always appreciated. (Let's put it this way -- I've never seen it NOT eaten, or taken with.)

*Add a small tray with mug, plus drink mixes: tea bags, instant coffee, packets of hot chocolate, things like that. And of course, a clean water glass in the bathroom.

*Keep a selection of books and magazines available. There are few things worse late at night in a strange place, when you're wide awake and can't figure out how to turn on the television. (Or are worried you'll disturb someone when you do.)

*Write out the WIFI password...and how to access it.  Put the card on the tray or pillow, or pin it to the wall under the lightswitch. Now your company can easily access your internet, without having to feel that they must pester you about it.


FOOD CHOICES FOR GUESTS

*Somehow, sometime you WILL have someone with no-gluten requirements. Keep at least one or two food items that satisfy this, stocked in the freezer or cupboards. (A box of no-gluten pasta will at least let you serve macaroni and cheese.)
     You'll also want to keep decaf coffee or teabags, for the same reason.

*Feed them fresh stuff. From your garden, if you've got it. Or eggs from your chickens. Anything that's famous locally -- or from your state. (In our case, it's items like mountain trout, salsa or green chilies.)  This is particularly successful if they don't normally have access to shrimp right off the boat,  a Michigan tomato picked ripe and still warm from the garden, or buffalo burgers. Whatever -- just so it's local and fresh. 





*Cookies (boxed) or cookie dough in the freezer. All cookie dough, so far as I know, will freeze successfully -- either as a tub (easier to store) or already-measured spoonfuls. (Freeze on a cookie sheet, then transfer to a bag. This way, you can pull out and bake only a few cookies, if needed.)
     A tube of refrigerator cookie dough works, too. Bake at the temperature specified, and serve warm. Makes your guests feel special -- and gives your place a homey smell.
     If you prefer your cookies readymade, be sure to buy a brand your family likes -- but not too much. If it's too good, they'll sneak it...and eat it! (Or you will.)

*Cake. A plain basic cake keeps easily in the freezer. Serve it with fresh or frozen fruit, plus a spritz of canned whipped cream. (Which I always keep a tube of, anyways.) I prefer pound cake because it's so versatile, but the Brick would be thrilled if I kept brownies around more often.

*Canned beef stew or a good soup. Stock at least two or three cans. Serve over rice or biscuits, if you have more guests than planned. I keep a box of better-quality crackers on hand, for the same reason. Besides, they look good with:

*Cheese. Grated, it stirs into pasta for a fantastic macaroni and cheese. Chunked, it's decorative served with crackers and cut-up veggies. If at all possible, I keep both mozzarella and cheddar, in the freezer and fridge. Cream cheese is good too, as well as specialty cheeses like gouda.

*Ranch dressing. Use it for veggies, potatoes...or stir into soup or a main dish, if you need a touch of sour cream (and don't have any). I keep a bottle of Oriental vinaigrette for chopped salad or stirfries, as well.

*A good bottle of wine...plus another bottle, this one of sparkling juice. (The Brick likes to stock a six or twelve-pack of beer, as well.) We have family members who drink alcohol -- and others whose lips would never touch liquor. If they're both at the same meal, I serve both bottles. Or either, depending on whose sitting at the dinner table.

*Good. Strong. Coffee. The Brick is known for his skill at making this. Granted, not all our guests drink coffee anymore -- but a surprising number do. And there's nothing nicer than sitting around at the end of a meal, scraping idly at the last bits of cake, sipping coffee, and listening to funny stories.

Welcome, Guests. You are always welcome.





Hee Haw's Revenge

Since the 'silly songs' post, I found one even stranger:

Roy Clark, singing the HeeHaw/Lawrence Welk Counter-Revolution Polka:




Both shows had been cancelled, for appealing too much to older viewers, instead of younger ones -- and went into syndication for decades, instead. Stupid, stupid, stupid, Hollywood honchos...

Read all about it here.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Silly Songs

If you've got a few minutes, these shorts are good at putting things into perspective. 

They're silly, but hey...life's like that sometimes. (Thankfully.)

First up, Steve Martin's 'King Tut,' from Saturday Night Live. 

   Update:  Oops, this was just pulled off Youtube. Instead, you get to enjoy the Mississippi Squirrel Revival by Ray Stevens:







Then Hee Haw's 'Where, Oh Where Are You Tonight.' (Also known as 'Pfft -- You Were Gone.')
     Tell me you don't know all the words to the chorus!




And finally, Ray Stevens' take on the Friendly Skies (which just ain't anymore):




Enjoy...and sing along.

10 Convenience Items That Are Worth It...And Updates

Our neck of Colorado finally got some moisture...bare scrapings of snow. The mountains have been slammed -- in fact, I-70 was closed onto the plains, as well. But for our part of the Front Range? Ha.

What we did get was cold, and lots of it. We're grateful if we see temperatures up in the 20s. Charley Bear doesn't mind; his coat is thick, and he'll roll in the dirt/snow mix just as quick as the white stuff. But both the Brick and I find that our toes and fingertips stay permanently icy. Whoever gets in bed first gets a chilly surprise when Person #2 crawls in and snuggles up. 



We can't all take pretty pictures..
If you live in Colorado, by the way, those temps mean you can now wear long sleeves, if you're so inclined. The shorts stay...maybe pajama bottoms, instead.






If you're a Faithful Reader, you know that these past weeks have been marked by loss for us. Charley largely has given up looking for Abby, though he searches occasionally. I've trained myself to step around her blanket for so long that it's habit by now. She was a quiet dog who left a large, empty space. 

I leave tomorrow for Michigan, and Macklin John's funeral service on Thursday. I honestly do not know how this visit is going to go -- but it's clear that I'm supposed to do it. The suitcase is packed with Valentine's stuff for The Mama (the Hollander approach -- that way, you save on shipping), as well as books for Steph and Adam's kids, and a present for Steph. Imagine: a funeral service for your son, and a few days later, your birthday celebration. How can I help and comfort this dearly-loved niece through all this...how can I help my brother and his wife, who were looking forward to this new grandchild? How can I cheer up The Mama, who is reliving her own loss of a child, decades ago? (I had this happen to me, too, though mine happened much more early.) 

          It will not be easy. 

The Brick will stay and hold the fort while I'm gone. Or, as Winston Churchill (and ironically, King George) liked to say, he'll KBO.  ("Keep buggering on.") Neither of us feels particularly enthusiastic about anything right now. 
    Meanwhile:




TEN CONVENIENCE ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH IT

            (Even if they cost more)

Frozen fish or chicken tenders, or meatballs -- especially if they're on sale. Easy to use and heat up quickly. Perfect for last-minute suppers, and take their place equally well as a main dish item or sandwich ingredient. (Good for when you don't feel like cooking, too.)

Frozen eggrolls, wonton or gyoza. These have all the 'easy' attributes mentioned above, but can also make a casual supper with friends into a party. Our local dollar store sells a 12-pack of gyoza for...you guessed it... a buck.
     Not on sale? Get frozen fries, instead. Top them with gravy (Elvis' favorite) or green/red chili, plus a layer of cheese. Heat til sizzling.

Canned soup. With any of the items above, this is a meal -- and a fast one. I'll even dilute the 'chunky' types with half a can of milk, broth or water; it makes them go further.

Frozen pizza -- if the right kind. Hold out for the more elaborate brands, and don't hesitate to add ingredients like crumbled bacon or sliced mushrooms. If you're feeling particularly decadent, extra shredded cheese.

Canned spray whipped cream. This seems decadent -- until you realize how long it lasts. Get real whipped cream, not 'imitation.' Our can from late October is still going strong; can you say the same thing about that tub of Cool Whip?

Canned chocolate sauce -- I'll argue for Hershey's thick chocolate, almost bitter taste anytime. Add a spritz of whipped cream and a cherry for "fahnsy" results on cake or ice cream. Stir it into milk for hot chocolate, or coffee for a mocha taste. Or shovel a few tablespoons in your mouth, if you're feeling blue. (Spray whipped cream in on top, for a sundae effect. Hey, Daughter #2 does it!)

Frosting tubes -- for cake, cupcake or cookie decorating. Easier to letter with, and can be used to make either purchased or homemade baked goods more personal. (Wait until after a holiday; they're usually in the clearance bin then. Right now, popular colors are, of course, red and green. Use the red for Valentine's Day, and save the green for St. Patrick's.)

This version from thisheartofmine.com, via Pinterest


Cream cheese. Tubs are okay, though bricks of cheese will go further and last longer. These are nourishing, spread in a sandwich or on a cracker. (There's always cheesecake, too.)  In a pinch, substitute a spoonful for sour cream.

Hot chocolate mix. Look for one that includes the words 'dark chocolate' or 'European.' (We Americans associate that with luxury, I would guess.) The Starbucks brand is surprisingly deep and dark; got it at the Friday/Saturday store for around 25 cents an envelope.
     I grew up drinking Swiss Miss, but it's pale and anemic, compared to the more expensive brands. So are many of the generics. Once you find a mix you like, make it half with milk. A huge difference on a dreary, snowy night. (That whipped cream should be nearby, as well, if you want to top off mit schlag.)

Your favorite fruit juice. Or frozen fruit. When it's cold and blowing outside, that spoonful of peach slices is a reminder that winter won't be here forever. Summer will return.

And life goes on.




Monday, January 15, 2018

Real Skill

Don't hate me because I'm talented. 
         Some of us have it, some don't.


Add to the list choking on water...and losing my car keys at a moment's notice.

Bet you're jealous...right?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Quiet Week

     I wish I could tell you something exciting about my doings lately. 
     There's nothing to tell. With everything that happened last week, and the week before, we just feel kind of numb.
     Baby Macklin's memorial service is this week. I'll be going, thanks to the fleece; the Brick will cover life here. When I booked the plane ticket, I felt badly that I couldn't go right away -- the ticket covered only one day to leave. But God knew. Had I gone then, I would have missed the service...and our niece's birthday. The fleece again! 
     God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.

The passenger who got an entire plane all to herself.

Best-loved grand prize recipes.  (From Taste of Home)  Or, if you're in the mood for Mexican:

Twenty-five Chipotle copycat recipes.

Wasting somebody else's money. Silly, but makes a point.  (From Money Beagle)

Taste of Home's Top Ten 80s Recipes.  Some of these look mighty good.

What happens when you get chills from a beautiful piece of music...Smithsonian explains all.

Bacon buns -- turns out this easy stuffed roll is a classic Lithuanian dish called Lasineciai. (The things I learn, researching for you!) Good with soup, freeze nicely, too.  (From The Spruce)


Here's a version where you boil the bacon and onion first. The name's different, too:  Ausytes. ( From Karen's Kitchen Stories)

Fifteen discounts for seniors. The Brick generally qualifies; sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. The article makes a point, however: just asking if they offer a discount may net you one.

The Maine Italian -- a sandwich! They're called that, by the way, from Italians who opened a shop in Portland. Go to the Amatos website, if you're curious, or here for another version. (From Genius Kitchen)



Ten mysterious lost treasures. Several here I've never heard of before.  (From Listverse)

Roasted butternut squash.  Easy and delicious.  (From Hundred Dollars A Month). Also from Mavis:



Christmas party at her mom and dad's. And I thought I was the only one who gave slightly weird gifts...I get a huge kick out of Mom's freebie gift boxes.

How to survive on $100/month for food.  (An interesting Reddit thread)

A sensory snowglobe.  (From Make Do Homemaker)



Have a good week.


The Colorado version of GPS...

Tired



Thursday, January 11, 2018

Remembering Abby

Our gentle, soft Golden Lab died early this morning. She was nearly 14.

We (including her buddy Charley) loved her dearly...and will miss her.










Rest in peace, sweet baby girl.